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Author Topic: General Feedback - Post Steam Launch  (Read 1342 times)
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Akranadas Offline
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Posts: 6906


« on: July 01, 2020, 08:14:27 pm »


Good Morning/Afternoon EIR Team,

Firstly I want to congratulate you on your launch as a modification on steam, I canít imagine the work that went into getting the certification to get the mod onto the platform. I can only imagine the positives that will come from this type of move.

Some of you may remember me from the older Europe in Ruins (EIR) days, if not I was a developer and moderator here at EIR way back when. Iíve been absent from the game for quite a long time, so itís good to see it kicking around. I also feel like this previous experience gives me a unique opportunity to provide some (what I think) valuable feedback on the new and returning player experience.

All of this feedback is well intentioned and not designed to criticise decisions made where I may not be privy to:

-          Limitations in programs

-          Design philosophies

-          Personal bias

-          Engine limitations

-          Team Member skill

-          Time constraints

My feedback will be broken up into sections, and in each section Iíll introduce the feedback, explain the reasoning and provide you with possible ideas or solutions to resolve the issues. Iím a firm believer in simply not providing criticism without providing solutions.

Over reliance on the launcher for game information
.

The biggest struggle Iíve had so far when coming back to Europe in Ruins (EIR) is finding out information about the changes the modification makes to units, abilities and doctrines. While this information is in the launcher, itís hard to locate it outside of that one instance Ė this leads to issues not when just building a company to play the game, but understanding what tricks, units and abilities youíll be facing when versing an opponent.

Without this information, it hurts new players and arbitrarily increases the skill depth of the game, as players inadvertently learn about skills, units and abilities through gameplay. Doctrine abilities such as Tigerphobia (Panzer 4ís look like Tigers now) can be difficult to understand at a glance, and a player might be confused why they are able to so easily kill Tiger tanks if you arenít able to read the enemyís doctrine ability list.

Having information in an easy to access webpage or even forum post will be key to allowing new players to better understand the game, and also improve on their own gameplay.

No real in-depth Unit Guide

Like the above feedback, getting information on the changes to infantry and vehicles is difficult and for a player coming from Company of Heroes, it would take a lot of experimentation to completely understand what the new units do, and what changes were made to the existing units. For instance, there is currently a number of Sherman varieties in the game, yet it could be easy for a newer player to not understand that all these Sherman variants have different stat attributes and weaknesses. Having a database or guide could allow a player to review their own post-game success and understand why one unit performed better than another.

Couple this with a breakdown of the various abilities a unit can receive (especially from doctrinal choices) and youíve got a potential for a source of frustration for a player, as they struggle to understand how certain units are able to access certain things.

Ease of access information in a game like this is key, especially given your potential audience and the growth you want to encourage with the title. Being user friendly doesnít mean dumbing down for newbies, itís the opposite really Ė it means enabling newbies to become those players that stick around.

Confusing Doctrinal Naming Conventions

When it comes to games with the depth of choice that Europe in Ruins has, providing easy to understand information is key. I noticed that when selecting my companyís doctrinal abilities that there was some oddities with the naming conventions in there.

I can see what the development team was going for here and aiming to include some World War 2 thematic flavour with abilities such as McNairís Doctrine, Pour it On ĎEm, The Charge at Remagen, Bridge at Benoville, Autumn Song, Infanteriebewaffnung and Highway 69.

Unfortunately, these names really donít tell me as a new player much about the choices Iím going to pick, they may perfect make sense to the person who designed/wrote the ability, but as the end consumer Iím left scratching my head at a glance at what it does. These names also really stand out when compared to a lot of the other choices in the doctrine trees, with some being themed in German, others being about places and some being much more straight forward as to what they do.

I would suggest maintaining a consistency when it comes to naming conventions, focusing on what the ability does and naming it accordingly. An Example for Highway 69 could simply be renamed; Fire on the Move, it conveys that the ability improves the accuracy on the move, fits with the majority of doctrinal naming in the tree already.

Your Biggest Hurdle


The biggest struggle Europe in Ruins (EIR) is going to have (and has always had) is easing players into the game. Conceptually, EIR is a game that should be easy for a new player to pick up, after all it simplifies the gameplay from Company of Heroes (CoH) and focuses the gameplay on the action side of the game, rather than the resource or base management part. Players with limited exposure to CoH should in theory be able to jump in and within a game or two, understand the concepts of EIR.

However, due to both the age of CoH, the existence of CoH2 and that multiplayer mods are incredibly niche products, there is going to be an inherent complexity with retaining new players in order to grow the player base. The biggest hurdle (and it may obvious one) for new players coming into EIR is going to be your existing player base.

Why is the existing player base the biggest hurdle? Well itís quite simple really, they are too good at this game. Due to their experience (often measured in years) and combined with the persistency of the gameís design, existing players will usually stomp new players rather easily. This will have a massive detrimental effect on new players and depending on the level of stomp, they may quit the game and never touch it again.

This isnít a desirable outcome for anyone.

While existing players love to win (who doesnít), it is also safe to say that they want to have a challenge and they most likely want to play against other opponents rather than the same pool of players time and time again to experience something new. Yet, we canít expect existing players to not face off against new players purely because the player population isnít large enough to facilitate that kind of thing. At the moment, your new players are stuck pretty much getting stomped unless they get into a 3v3 match and get carried by an experience player, which again isnít a desirable outcome.

How do you reduce or remove this hurdle? Itís not a simple question to answer and will take some trial and error to get right, but I think more important now to get it right at this moment than it has ever been in EIRís long history.

One possible way to ease new players into this environment (and I know this was floated when I was on the dev team a few times) is limited new player bonus. The idea at the time was to give new players an increased amount of resources when building their army and/or a higher population cap, to offset the amount of potential veterancy that an existing player would have. Newer players would have the ability to have more units than their more skilled counterparts, allowing them to remain in the fight longer and as a by-product, gain experience in the game over one match rather than a couple. The bonus would potentially last only a few games, after that it would revert back to the same level as existing players Ė hopefully by that time the new player would have some veteran troops, some knowledge of the game and actually want to stick around.

This also has an added bonus of giving existing players a challenge of sorts; having to do more with less as youíre effectively fighting with an handicap of sorts if you decide to take on a newer player.

Thatís all I have for now, once again Ė fantastic job.

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Illegal_Carrot Offline
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Posts: 1038


« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2020, 10:59:01 pm »

Thanks for taking the time to write this up, it's always good to get constructive feedback.

My thoughts are as follows:
Quote
Over reliance on the launcher for game information.
I agree with this, and I'm a proponent of EIR having a wiki similar to the World of Tanks wiki, where we can list out every unit, and every ability, and have all the relevant information together in one place. However, I think any sort of wiki would need to be built to automatically pull the correct stat from the database (the same way the Unit Price List information is 100% automated), otherwise it would eventually become and outdated and contain incorrect information. The dev team does not have the time to build and maintain a proper wiki at the moment. We do technically have a wiki, but I don't think anyone's ever done much with it.

Quote
No real in-depth Unit Guide
Similar to above, I think a fully automated wiki that pulls stats from the database would be ideal, but a bit out of our scope at the moment. Smaller steps are being taken, though. Unknown and I are in the middle of updating all the doctrine texts' for formatting and accuracy, we're updating unit names to be a little more clear and added a line below for a brief unit description, and adding a short description of upgrades on the item itself in the Company tab. I also think our current existing player resources, the Leaderboards, Unit Price Lists, and Map List, and all great tools.

Quote
Confusing Doctrinal Naming Conventions
We're just updating doctrine descriptions now, coming up with better names for stuff would have to be in the next pass. But I do know that some abilities in the RGDs are named after their current doctrine names, so changing names could make keeping track of what does what rather difficult.
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Tachibana Offline
NotADev
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Posts: 1283


« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2020, 11:15:40 pm »

Quote
No real in-depth Unit Guide

Like the above feedback, getting information on the changes to infantry and vehicles is difficult and for a player coming from Company of Heroes, it would take a lot of experimentation to completely understand what the new units do, and what changes were made to the existing units. For instance, there is currently a number of Sherman varieties in the game, yet it could be easy for a newer player to not understand that all these Sherman variants have different stat attributes and weaknesses. Having a database or guide could allow a player to review their own post-game success and understand why one unit performed better than another.

Couple this with a breakdown of the various abilities a unit can receive (especially from doctrinal choices) and youíve got a potential for a source of frustration for a player, as they struggle to understand how certain units are able to access certain things.

Ease of access information in a game like this is key, especially given your potential audience and the growth you want to encourage with the title. Being user friendly doesnít mean dumbing down for newbies, itís the opposite really Ė it means enabling newbies to become those players that stick around.

This is actually pretty striking in terms of dissonance in the direction of EIR recently that I never really thought of.

It was pretty clearly decided that EIR would no longer be adherent to vCoH in any strict sense. Despite this, all of our information is given with the baseline caveat the the player would have basic knowledge of vCoH. Someone who has never played vCoH would literally have zero clue as to volk/rifle/gren balance, despite the fact EIR abandoned catering to the purist vCoH crowd some time ago.

Definitely brings having an updated and functional wiki + more up front corsix tutorials higher on the list of to-do's than I had previously considered them to be in the grand scheme.
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It's like saying "i can understand his concerns that fire breathing dragons live in far away lands"
americans dont dodge wars.
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Olazaika1 Offline
EIR Regular
Posts: 45



« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2020, 09:23:00 am »


One possible way to ease new players into this environment (and I know this was floated when I was on the dev team a few times) is limited new player bonus. The idea at the time was to give new players an increased amount of resources when building their army and/or a higher population cap, to offset the amount of potential veterancy that an existing player would have. Newer players would have the ability to have more units than their more skilled counterparts, allowing them to remain in the fight longer and as a by-product, gain experience in the game over one match rather than a couple. The bonus would potentially last only a few games, after that it would revert back to the same level as existing players Ė hopefully by that time the new player would have some veteran troops, some knowledge of the game and actually want to stick around.


Great idea - maybe resource bonuses ending after the first 5 or 10 games of the company?
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lol dats true get rekt



I like balanced companies

you can't just post a replay every single time I fuck up the opening
Mysthalin Offline
Tired King of Stats
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Posts: 9049


« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2020, 09:59:06 am »

Thanks for the feedback Akra and hope you're enjoying dipping your toes into the mod again.

On unit guides - we do have the unit price list (http://forums.europeinruins.com/index.php?page=71), which contains all of the information on units which is available in the launcher.
Granted, this is far from perfect and a fully fledged wiki would be better - but it is something.

On helping new players with resource bonuses - I feel like I have to disagree.

Battles of attrition, and companies built around these, typically only work when player skill is either even across teams, or when the attrition-focused team has a higher level of skill. For newer players playing against veterans the biggest issue is about having much meaningful impact on the battlefield.
Stomps feel like stomps when a team are in their spawn 10 minutes in with no plausible way of making progress - not so much when they're running out of units 30-40 minutes in where experienced players still have another 5-10 call-ins that the losing side never even sees. I'm not sure what system we can put into place to help with this, other than moderating people's behaviour.

I think our community has matured from the olden days, and I have seen people being proactive in avoiding complete stomps. It hasn't been perfect, but it is encouraging - and hopefully with the right incentives (positive ones, as well as negative reinforcement when needed) we can keep improving the culture to make sure newbies feel welcome and like they have a chance.
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Akranadas Offline
Honoured Member
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Posts: 6906


« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2020, 05:38:20 pm »

Thanks for the feedback Akra and hope you're enjoying dipping your toes into the mod again.

I'll be honest with you, I'm a little split on my experience with this version of Europe in Ruins.

One on side, I can see all the work and time that went into the modification to get it where it is today. It's clear that even at a glimpse that there has been a lot of love and attention that has gone into keeping the mod growing. It still offers that same unique RTS experience that seems impossible to get anywhere else and will probably never get again.

The other however, I can see the nostalgia preventing me from truly enjoying this version of Europe in Ruins. I can explain further if you would like, I just don't want to step on anyone's toes.
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Illegal_Carrot Offline
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Posts: 1038


« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2020, 07:39:25 pm »

I can explain further if you would like, I just don't want to step on anyone's toes.
You posted a feedback thread, so post your feedback.

Just keep in mind it has to be something we can work with. Tongue
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TheVolskinator Offline
Administrator / Lead Developer
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Posts: 3050



« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2020, 09:31:10 pm »

This shitter Volskinator and his dag gum history. Get that shit outta here. Where's my TR ATGs that two-shot stugs?

:-P

I'm well aware that my version of EiR is probably the least-fun of any of the previous ones. I'm also aware that, by and large, it's entirely my fault that it is the way it is. I am also-also keenly aware that I'm crap at anything other than massive textwalls and random history facts. Please, roll the steamroller over my toes, nice and slow-like.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 09:33:46 pm by TheVolskinator » Logged

Quote from: tank130
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If not, then I wipe, then someone gets something they shouldn't, then it gets abused, then the shit hits the fan and then I ban shab.

Getting EiR:R Released on Steam

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Illegal_Carrot Offline
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Posts: 1038


« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2020, 10:14:19 pm »

:-P
Man, you gotta stop taking professional criticism so personally. Noone is here to tear you down or degrade you, we're here to work together to make EIR the best it can be. Quit assuming that everyone hates you, because they don't.

I don't know how you manage to keep such a fatalistic attitude about things. EIR just launched near-flawlessly onto Steam (a miracle by itself), and the player base has grown significantly the last few weeks, with game activity at long-term highs. How you manage to look at that and somehow consider yourself a failure I'll never understand. Snap out of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvCQtiK6mj4&t=56s
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 10:49:39 pm by Illegal_Carrot » Logged
NightRain Offline
EIR Veteran
Posts: 3930



« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2020, 12:36:32 am »

Man, you gotta stop taking professional criticism so personally. Noone is here to tear you down or degrade you, we're here to work together to make EIR the best it can be. Quit assuming that everyone hates you, because they don't.

I don't know how you manage to keep such a fatalistic attitude about things. EIR just launched near-flawlessly onto Steam (a miracle by itself), and the player base has grown significantly the last few weeks, with game activity at long-term highs. How you manage to look at that and somehow consider yourself a failure I'll never understand. Snap out of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvCQtiK6mj4&t=56s

This.

Also for players with no clue about VCoH, well they won't be having a good time. VCoH offers basic understanding of how company of heroes plays out. EiR brings forward the same pile with different units built thematically. Yes some changes are weird and confusing, such like M4A1 sherman replacing M4A3 which is VCoH one and so forth. It is a skin change which also affects P4 IST which no longer gains skirts visually because of a skin change which definitely will confuse players. (Witnessed it)

Not all information is belayed correctly but then again I honestly assume no one reads them in deeper detail either way. What someone could do is write a EiR_Manual_PDF in English and (then translate it into German) hope that people read it. Project Reality did it and it provided useful information in it.

As for stomps, well every game is gon start out as one till you learn. If you are willing to go through the curve and survive it. It was always the case in MP mods.


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Because a forum post should be like a woman's skirt. Long enough to cover the subject material, but short enough to keep things interesting.
Bear Offline
EIR Veteran
Posts: 899



« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2020, 03:47:46 am »

.
.
.The biggest struggle Iíve had so far when coming back to Europe in Ruins (EIR) is finding out information about the changes the modification makes to units, abilities and doctrines. While this information is in the launcher, itís hard to locate it outside of that one instance Ė this leads to issues not when just building a company to play the game, but understanding what tricks, units and abilities youíll be facing when versing an opponent.

Without this information, it hurts new players and arbitrarily increases the skill depth of the game, as players inadvertently learn about skills, units and abilities through gameplay. Doctrine abilities such as Tigerphobia (Panzer 4ís look like Tigers now) can be difficult to understand at a glance, and a player might be confused why they are able to so easily kill Tiger tanks if you arenít able to read the enemyís doctrine ability list.
.
.
.

I think you should only learn a game through your own experiences and not through tables. Chain e.g. do no longer plays EIR because updates keep changing the game.

It's a different philosophy, but we're also fighters and not nerds.
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Brothers stand tall!

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Erst die Erde, dann die Sterne.
Akranadas Offline
Honoured Member
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Posts: 6906


« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2020, 05:19:41 am »

:-P

I'm well aware that my version of EiR is probably the least-fun of any of the previous ones. I'm also aware that, by and large, it's entirely my fault that it is the way it is. I am also-also keenly aware that I'm crap at anything other than massive textwalls and random history facts. Please, roll the steamroller over my toes, nice and slow-like.

I think you're being very unfair to yourself to call this least-fun version of Europe in Ruins. There are plenty of iterations in the past, with some completely broken elements and design choices that would take that crown from you. EIR development has always had to straddle the fine line between appeasing different groups of the community, as well as the development teams own opinions. Criticism and/or feedback can guide you in which way to go, but in the end you can only push the modification in a direction you think is right. When it comes to EIR, it's the core gameplay that people have always enjoyed the most, not the window dressing of the units and doctrines.

Which from the looks of things, might be the correct way to go regardless of what some might say. Like Illegal_Carrot said above, everyone wants to see the modification succeed, and despite the reputation I may have garnered (possibly warranted), I've always wanted it to succeed.

My feedback is more from playing around with the modification with (and I'll be honest) a limited amount of experience. I am not someone who knows the ins and outs of the game anymore.


To expand upon my point earlier a little more:

I've always thought the main strength of EIR was that it found a way to build off of what you got with vanilla Company of Heroes - that the units more of less stayed relatively the same. This allowed players to transition easier from vCoH to the game play of EIR, because more or less you could employ similar tactics and strategies without the base building and resource management to tie you down. Yet it would be also incredibly naive to deny that there has always been a perception and push to add more and more; whether its new tanks, infantry squads or fancier doctrine abilities. It's what mods should do right? Add more things to the game to make it different from the game it's based on and it's something I definitely agreed with in the past.

It has always been the eternal struggle when it comes to this modification - do you change it all, just some or none? It's not an easy question to answer and I don't think there is a right one. I think though, one of the most striking changes that I've seen is to the way the doctrines are handled, more specifically the modifiers they add to units - I can see the merit in doing this, but it's something that caught me out as a new player. I started to look at the doctrines as a way to min-max my units, rather than looking at what type of new gameplay could be derived from unlocking things.

I think that is why the doctrine system in vCoH (and CoH2) works well, that instead of buffing unit stats the abilities you unlock give you a new way to approach a situation. This is always something I felt hindered EIR in the past when it came to doctrine design, that we (previous development teams) looks to stats as a quick and easy way to offer players an unlock, rather than taking the time to think of unlocks that would be far more interesting design wise. Right now in the current version of EIR, I can see some great ideas that do have the design philosophy and I think the unlocks that follow that design are the stand outs.  

If your team does decide to rework the doctrines in the future, I my suggestion looking back to simpler designs such as; have doctrine abilities affect 1 unit or type of unit, this would make balancing a whole lot better for you. Avoid blanket improvements, a few of your abilities seem to almost buff everything in some way. Add abilities that offer new game play chances.

You're all doing a fantastic job and I can't say again, I proud I am to see where the mod is going. Remember though, these are the ramblings of someone who skipped the last 8 years or so of EIR development.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 05:21:47 am by Akranadas » Logged
Unkn0wn Offline
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« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2020, 07:11:34 am »

Great thread. Thanks for the extensive feedback Akra, it's really appreciated as we don't always have new (or old returning) players come in and provide that level of detail as to what they believe might be hindering their enjoyment of the mod. I can certainly relate to the fact that the mod is pretty daunting to get in to as a new player or a returning one, simply because of the sheer amount of things that have changed over the years and the amount of information one arguably has to go through to be brought up to speed with how to play the mod. And I know we like to joke about volsky's seemingly endless walls of texts but this has been an issue EIR has always had to a certain extent.

On the specific points you bring in:

Quote
Over reliance on the launcher for game information.
No real in-depth Unit Guide

These are sort of part of the same problem. All the information is contained within the launcher and there is a limit to what information we can give in a digestible format inside the launcher. We've just gone through a major overhaul of doctrine unlock descriptions as the previous descriptions many of us felt were overwhelming. We want to make sure people get a relatively accessible experience when it comes to the information contained within the launcher, i.e. doctrine unlocks should give you the main information without going into f.e. great detail on how to use abilities/unlocks. Similarly, we now have description boxes for both upgrades and units that we can use to convey main changes from vCOH and possibly also highlight other crucial bits of information (like 'engineers dont repair tanks' and 'repair kits render your tank immobile and unable to fire for the duration of the repair'). But I recognise that only scratches the surface and so ideally we also have a more in-depth guide on all aspects of the mod that people who want to learn more can delve into. There's some real time constraints on our ability to create that however, and we have had a wiki in the past which is now hopelessly outdated so doing something like this would require some serious community involvement and crowd-sourcing to get right.

I think the steam community hub page is actually quite a good place for these kind of materials too. It allows access from inside the launchr using the steam overlay and allows any player to post guides, etc onto.

Quote
Confusing Doctrinal Naming Conventions
I agree some of the names (as well as icons!) create confusion, though with how broad some of the doc unlocks (covering different buffs and units) are it's challenging to always convey the content with just a 2-3 word title. In my opinion whats most important, beyond the name, is that one can quickly see what an ability does and I hope that with the doc ability description overhaul we've just completed that part at least is better than it was before.

Like carrot pointed out, a lot of buffs for the top table unlocks are also referenced within the RGDs so unfortunately we couldn't right now go in and change names without risking complete chaos in the code that references specific abilities. Rather I hope this is something we can keep in mind for future doctrine changes. We're definitely still working to tweak some of the abilities and i know volsky is eyeing a more substantial overhaul of some of the more lacklustre doctrines at least (looking at you, terror), but that's a longer term project.

Quote
Your Biggest Hurdle

I agree its a major hurdle, though I'm not sure that at the moment it's necessarily the biggest. Since steam release we had about 1000 unique accounts created for the mod, without any active promotion on our part, but if we look at the amount of accounts that actually ended up with at least 1 game played, that count sits somewhere around 100. So that leads me to the conclusion that our biggest hurdle is in fact actually getting players in a game. A lot of new players probably come into the mod to check it out. Some might have thought it had a singleplayer function, others might have checked it out at a time there were no active battles and some others may have ended up in 1v1s that then ended up failing because either they or their opponent didn't build their company properly or did not have their steam name match their company name.

So getting people into completing a first game in the first place is absolutely the biggest hurdle in my view. Some of the reasons people drop out (like expecting singleplayer functionality) we probably won't be able to address anytime soon if at all (though we would do well to incorporate some sort of 1v1 AI stomp map longer term) while other issues we might only be able to address if we build a new launcher that allows for things like 1. steam name integration, 2. first time player in-launcher tutorials and 3. new player default company templates.

Now assuming that aside from updating our guides and building better documentation (on forums, steam hub, discord) there's not much else we can do for the majority of new players dropping out, that does leave us with the segment of players who get all of those things right but then end up in lopsided battles as a second major hurdle.

Like mysth has pointed out, to some extent this will simply require community self-policing. We don't have the playerbase to set up automatching or anything like that. Scot was working on a team "balance bar" to at least shed light on possible team imbalance issues but unfortuantely wasn't able to finish that before his holidays. I do think that our community has been pretty accommodating in this respect since steam, with bad stacks less likely and more players willing to switch or eager to speak out on team balance, especially when new players are involved. It's something we need to stay on top of and continue to build a community culture on, so that we don't end up back in our old ways as I agree that (together with a pretty elitist and toxic community) has been one of the reasons we lost many players along the way.

So I'd much rather we try to prevent bad stacks than somehow accept them as a fact of life but give new players a bonus to compensate. That's not to say it couldn't be interesting to explore some newb advantages once again like we did in the past, but then we have to make sure we don't end up with smurfing being a problem again. And here too I agree with mysth that giving people more resources is probably not going to make much of a difference, as in stomps you more often end up losing on map control than you do attrition. Extra pop just for the new player perhaps could maybe help but the issues new players have with the mod is often one of micro and "being overwhelmed" with how to play the mod - so giving them the ability to field more units at the same time when they already struggle with what they have by default might only make things worse. At the end of the day, I think its more important that we give new players a good steer on how to build companies and how to play the mod in an easy way before they play their first game, and then have them end up in a game alongside some experienced players. These are things we can somewhat try to do without requiring further launcher or ingame code at least.

Quote
I've always thought the main strength of EIR was that it found a way to build off of what you got with vanilla Company of Heroes - that the units more of less stayed relatively the same. This allowed players to transition easier from vCoH to the game play of EIR, because more or less you could employ similar tactics and strategies without the base building and resource management to tie you down. Yet it would be also incredibly naive to deny that there has always been a perception and push to add more and more; whether its new tanks, infantry squads or fancier doctrine abilities. It's what mods should do right? Add more things to the game to make it different from the game it's based on and it's something I definitely agreed with in the past.

It has always been the eternal struggle when it comes to this modification - do you change it all, just some or none? It's not an easy question to answer and I don't think there is a right one. I think though, one of the most striking changes that I've seen is to the way the doctrines are handled, more specifically the modifiers they add to units - I can see the merit in doing this, but it's something that caught me out as a new player. I started to look at the doctrines as a way to min-max my units, rather than looking at what type of new gameplay could be derived from unlocking things.

I think that is why the doctrine system in vCoH (and CoH2) works well, that instead of buffing unit stats the abilities you unlock give you a new way to approach a situation. This is always something I felt hindered EIR in the past when it came to doctrine design, that we (previous development teams) looks to stats as a quick and easy way to offer players an unlock, rather than taking the time to think of unlocks that would be far more interesting design wise. Right now in the current version of EIR, I can see some great ideas that do have the design philosophy and I think the unlocks that follow that design are the stand outs.  

If your team does decide to rework the doctrines in the future, I my suggestion looking back to simpler designs such as; have doctrine abilities affect 1 unit or type of unit, this would make balancing a whole lot better for you. Avoid blanket improvements, a few of your abilities seem to almost buff everything in some way. Add abilities that offer new game play chances.

Back to doctrines, because I agree it's an important part of what makes or breaks the mod. We've gone through many iterations over the past years under different designers and so our current doctrines are a bit of a mishmash, with some being quite good and others being rather lacklustre. This is very much game design and volsky's turf and I believe he intends to rework some of the doctrines over time at least, but I agree we need to take a step back and think through what makes for good doctrine design if we are indeed going to be opening up the can of worms.

One of the biggest issues I had coming back to the mod 1-2 years ago is actually the experience you've described yourself. I was a little overwhelmed, especially by the doctrines and it took some real "slogging through" to get me into a mindset where I felt like creating a company and actually sitting out the wait to get a game going. And then it took me a couple of games before I really properly started to appreciate the mod again. I'm happy that I bothered because I ended up falling back in love with the game, but it shouldn't be that daunting and difficult for someone to come back in and enjoy a mod they know very well and used to enjoy greatly in the past. I see a lot of our oldtime players seem to be going through the same thing, sometimes only getting 1 game in and then disappearing again.

So when it comes to doctrine design at least, I personally also feel "less is more" and we are not doing ourselves any favours by having every unlock list 2-3 or sometimes more different buffs to a plethora of units. It makes the whole act of selecting doctrines quite a challenging one, as you don't actually have 21 choices but you have more like 21*3-4 different unlocks within an unlock. The current pick and choose doctrine system is great, but it was designed to accommodate a limited number of selections only (doesn't have to be 21, could be 30 or whatever we feel is the right number), i.e. 1 actual buff or choice for every unlock.

I also agree that excessive % stat buffs, even when linked to resource costs, don't create for the most exciting doctrine choices. Though it is really difficult to create say 21 abilities that are mainly focused on utility. And then doing that for 12 different doctrines. % stat buffs also tend to have adverse balance impacts when they stack with veterancy bonuses. So any doctrine redesign in my view at least should probably look to find a better balance, with a good mix of smaller free buffs, bigger % stat buffs with resource costs and free/resource-tied utility/playstyle type abilities and a fewer amount of doctrine buffs per unlock (1-2 max, but still applied to relatively wide range of units to avoid min-maxing as opposed to 3-4 or more buffs within a single unlock). The best example of good doctrinal stat buffs are things like tank commanders (with the toggle giving a choice), weapon swaps (assault rifles on riflemen), etc. that also give a clear visual indication of the buff being applied (which is another important aspect for good doctrine design)


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I think you should only learn a game through your own experiences and not through tables. Chain e.g. do no longer plays EIR because updates keep changing the game.

And lastly, just to echo this point by Friendly which is an important one as well. In some cases players returning might simply be overwhelmed by how little the current version of the mod resembles the one they were thinking of when they reinstalled EIR in a nostalgic fit. So keeping some consistency and treading carefully on this front I feel is important too. Changing entire faction rosters or adding loads of new units (like we did with reward units in the past) can be very disruptive to a player's experience and we'd probably do well to avoid big overhauls to core features of the mod (and staples like unit rosters, etc) if we don't want to frustrate existing players. Games suddenly having a gazillion new reward units that players then suddenly have to figure out how to deal with is just one such example. Another is parts of a doctrine being changed out/swapped through a patch and without a wipe. (which is disruptive to people who were playing that doctrine but also to people who then have to learn about all kinds of new units and abilities that were introduced) We should keep all such changes for doctrines to be introduced through quarterly wipe cycles only and for reward units should probably trickle them in so players can slowly grow accustomed to some of the new units we want to introduce.

The sheer amount of new units, upgrades and abilities we have in EIR and have added in recent years is generally a massive selling point, but we must be careful not to lose the balance between content on the one hand and player accessibility on the other.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 07:22:32 am by Unkn0wn » Logged
Dnicee Offline
EIR Veteran
Posts: 1011



« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2020, 02:48:42 am »

Hello everyone. So I thought I'd give my two cents regarding the mod in its current state. First of all it is worth to mention that I only tried one game and played really bad too. But I was still able to see obvious balancing problems which takes all the fun out of EiR.

If you guys have been here awhile you might remember the old AB or ranger blobs. They would just run through anyone and anything. I just had the exact same experience (except that it was an axis player who had a blob). Nothing wrong with blobs but when they constantly outrun you or when several HMGs can't stop them it becomes a problem.

I used to love this mod but I have to say that it was not a pleasent experience returning at all. As long as players exploit bad balancing I would not expect EiRs playerbase to grow.
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Unkn0wn Offline
No longer retired
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2020, 05:51:27 am »

Heya dnice! Good to hear from you.

When did you last play EIR? I remember you briefly came back about a year or more ago. Just want to say that I think we've made quite some progress in terms of balancing the mod since then, as I agree it was not in a very good state for a while. But we're very focused on balance and bugfixing at the moment, so hope you give it another shot sometime and can see for yourself! Also keen to hear everyone's feedback on what they think the main issues are.

Regarding Ab blobs for example, we got rid of the "double fire-up" and fire-up on airborne riflemen and other units which was causing a lot of problems in terms of indeed usual counters like HMGs becoming voided. I personally haven't seen that many problematic blobs anymore in a long time
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 06:22:57 am by Unkn0wn » Logged
aeroblade56 Offline
Development
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2020, 10:57:20 am »


I used to love this mod but I have to say that it was not a pleasent experience returning at all. As long as players exploit bad balancing I would not expect EiRs playerbase to grow.

First of all welcome back Dnicee its been a long time.

I saw the game in question first hand. Things have changed alot since probably 2014 or so and hopping into a game like you did last night you were bound to get taken by surprise.

Trapmaker uses Grenadier with Heroic critical makes them take literally twice as long to kill as you probably noticed. Sniper shots takes 2, Tank shots usually take 2.  two very good counter would probably a well placed artillery shot Calliope barrage, a Churchill crocodile, or capping the map with riflemen.

Remember while he has a concentrated force that is deadly to most infantry its all in one spot and capping around and keeping them at arms length and out attrition such a strat is key.

Information has always been important in EIR knowing what peoples habits and quirks are, are very vital to winning.  Sorry you first game was a rush but i promise give it a few days and you will figure it out and be top dog with p4s again
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You are welcome to your opinion.

You are also welcome to be wrong.
Akranadas Offline
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2020, 07:59:28 pm »


Quote
So when it comes to doctrine design at least, I personally also feel "less is more" and we are not doing ourselves any favours by having every unlock list 2-3 or sometimes more different buffs to a plethora of units. It makes the whole act of selecting doctrines quite a challenging one, as you don't actually have 21 choices but you have more like 21*3-4 different unlocks within an unlock. The current pick and choose doctrine system is great, but it was designed to accommodate a limited number of selections only (doesn't have to be 21, could be 30 or whatever we feel is the right number), i.e. 1 actual buff or choice for every unlock.

I also agree that excessive % stat buffs, even when linked to resource costs, don't create for the most exciting doctrine choices. Though it is really difficult to create say 21 abilities that are mainly focused on utility. And then doing that for 12 different doctrines. % stat buffs also tend to have adverse balance impacts when they stack with veterancy bonuses. So any doctrine redesign in my view at least should probably look to find a better balance, with a good mix of smaller free buffs, bigger % stat buffs with resource costs and free/resource-tied utility/playstyle type abilities and a fewer amount of doctrine buffs per unlock (1-2 max, but still applied to relatively wide range of units to avoid min-maxing as opposed to 3-4 or more buffs within a single unlock). The best example of good doctrinal stat buffs are things like tank commanders (with the toggle giving a choice), weapon swaps (assault rifles on riflemen), etc. that also give a clear visual indication of the buff being applied (which is another important aspect for good doctrine design)



I think if we go back to the Tank Reapers example that Volk brought up humorously at first, but it is a fantastic example of an EIR created doctrine ability that shows the flaws in the design style of stat bonus. Tank Reapers is an ability that has always, in every iteration, either been completely broken (two shotting STuGs) or not worth the investment. Yet, itís a doctrine ability that in theory, should make the American AT Gun better and form a playstyle around it.

Though there seems to be this Ďtrapí that Tank Reapers should revolve around buffing damage, penetration or accuracy, even though from memory, AT Guns are pretty deadly on their own, and with AP Rounds Ė the American AT Gun is quite power, so any stat buffing could potentially send it into overpowered state very easily, and weíve all seen what over powered AT Guns can do to the game.

For this particular example, perhaps Tank Reapers could be redesigned towards ensuring your AT Guns stay in the fight longer, allowing them to have a greater impact on the game over the course of the game, rather than simply having the crew die or forced to retreat, rendering the bonusí rather moot.

Looking through some old EIR design documents, I can see an idea that was floated once (I canít remember the discussion around it) regarding Tank Reapers was to make the doctrine ability do the following:

∑         Swap out the standard Infantry for Rangers Ė This would give a quick visual identification that the AT Gun is a Tank Reaper AT Gun and would require different tactics to tackle than a standard AT Gun.

∑         Increase the crew from 3 to 4 Ė This would have given the crew a little bit more ĎHealthí and allow it to sustain 2 causalities, instead of the one. This would allow it to have a greater potential impact over the course of game.

∑         Change crew member weaponry to SMGs Ė This additional change was to allow the crew some potential to Ďfight backí if overrun by infantry. This was to stop it being challenged by one squad and defeated easily. Again, challenging the enemy to tackle the unit slightly differently.

The theory with the above changes to the AT Gun was that it would have the effect of making the AT Gun deadlier without making it do more damage or penetration. Instead the idea was designed around increasing the survivability of the unit, in order to increase its deadliness in the game. So it wasnít a weapon that could be easily flanked with a squad, it took a little more commitment from the enemy to remove it from play.

Now, Iím not saying to adopt the above for this version Ė itís just me digging up some old documents that were sitting around and having a look over it as an example.

 
Quote
Trapmaker uses Grenadier with Heroic critical makes them take literally twice as long to kill as you probably noticed. Sniper shots takes 2, Tank shots usually take 2. two very good counter would probably a well placed artillery shot Calliope barrage, a Churchill crocodile, or capping the map with riflemen.

Remember while he has a concentrated force that is deadly to most infantry its all in one spot and capping around and keeping them at arms length and out attrition such a strat is key.

Information has always been important in EIR knowing what peoples habits and quirks are, are very vital to winning. Sorry you first game was a rush but i promise give it a few days and you will figure it out and be top dog with p4s again

Personally from this players account of events, it sounds like the information about the unitís buff state isnít being convey to the players fighting it. Itís going to be incredibly frustrating to a new player to see units becoming bullet sponges and they feel at a loss to fight against.

I would also say that relying on knowledge of other playerís army compensation, quirks and gameplay habits is detrimental to core multiplayer video game design. Players shouldnít be viewed in a similar fashion as a boss fights in Dark Souls where you need to learn their patterns and telegraphs before beating them. It is only going to hurt you in the long run if you see an issue as ďIf only you knew Akranadas has all of the doctrine abilities to buff riflemen unlockedĒ rather than how to you convey the information clearer about the changes to units with abilities such as Heroic Critical Ė because it sounds like the only way to know that is to either lose against it.

 
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TheVolskinator Offline
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2020, 08:17:09 pm »

Disclaimers: preliminary thinking. Also thinking while sleep deprived. All suggestions are serious, I will stress that I am NOT trolling. So, doctrine design philosophy

Doctrine unlocks should feature no more than two explicit buffs (gains camo, or 1.33 pen., or heals when not in combat, etc).

The number of units affected by those buffs should not be overly limited.

Buffs should be applied to a unit type (infantry, crew weapons, tank destroyers) rather than specific units.
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Allies:
Allied doctrines should focus on out-playing enemy players with large numbers of less-powerful units.
- If properly balanced, Allied K:D should hover between 0.5 and 1 in average matches.

Allied doctrines should be balanced around limited, castable ability uses such as grenades and AP rounds.
- If a player fails to trade/make up their cost before they run out of uses, then they should be encouraged to suicide/call off the unit.

Allied players should be subtly discouraged from preserving their units, and should instead be incentivized to sacrifice or trade them to win the match (as opposed to vetting up).

Allied doctrines should be weak in terms of passive abilities.

Allied infantry and crew weapon stat buffs that are multiplicative (acc., rec. supp.) should not exceed 10% (1.1 or 0.9) under any circumstance. Additive buffs (HP/man, sight) should not exceed 5.
- Allied infantry builds should seek quantity over quality.
- These buffs should be further limited by being situational; i.e. is moving, or is in neutral/enemy territory, or is garrisoned.

Allied infantry and crew weapon buff costs should reflect their potency relative to the unit they are buffing (10% or 1.1 acc. on a 200 MP Rifleman should cost 10% of the unit's base cost, in this case 20 MP).
- Cumulitive stat and cost increase on infantry and crew weapons should not exceed 25% of the unit's base stats/cost (i.e 1.1 acc, 0.9 rec supp, 0.95 cooldown, and the associated costs of those buffs).
- Unit stat increase percentage limit should always be considered, even if the buffs are not of the same type (as seen above).

Allied infantry and crew weapons should not receive more than three (3) stat buffs in any one doctrine (i.e. Airborne or RSE).

Allied vehicle buffs that are multiplicative should not exceed 15% (1.15 or 0.85). Additive vehicle buffs are rare, and usually a raw HP buff. They should not exceed 150 for any Allied vehicle.
- Cumulitive stat and cost increase on infantry and crew weapons should not exceed 40% of the unit's base stats/cost (i.e 1.15 pen, 0.9 rec dmg, 1.15 acceleration, and the associated costs of those buffs).
- Unit stat increase percentage limit should always be considered, even if the buffs are not of the same type (as seen above).

Allied vehicles should receive no more than four (4) stat buffs in any one doctrine.

Allied vehicle passive buffs should not seriously enhance a vehicle's damage or ability to penetrate enemy vehicles.

Allied lower unlocks should not unlock more than two (2) units per unlock (and thus six (6) total) or two (2) weapon/ability upgrades per unlock (again, up to six (6) total).

Allied lower unlocks should avoid MP-based weapon upgrades (Assault Garands).

Allied lower unlocks should avoid SMG, LMG, or enhanced rifle (Assault Garands, Scoped Enfields) upgrades on mainline infantry.
- The former two are fine on some elite infantry, though LMGs are discouraged. The latter most upgrade type is permissible only on engineer-type squads, but should be intentionally overpriced to discourage spam.
---------
Axis:
Axis doctrines should focus on farming the snot out of Allied companies while slowly pushing them off the field.
- If properly balanced, Axis K:D should hover between 1 and 1.5 in average matches.

Axis doctrines should be balanced around powerful percentage-based stat buffs.
- Players should be encouraged to keep their units on the field for as long as possible to maximize their value, even if it places the unit in danger.

Axis players should be encouraged to preserve their units without throwing the game.
- We may want to introduce rec XP buffs to encourage this.

Axis doctrines should be strong in terms of passive abilities.

Axis infantry and crew weapon stat buffs that are multiplicative (acc., rec. supp.) should not exceed 20% (1.2 or 0.8 ) under any circumstance. Additive buffs (HP/man, sight) should not exceed 10.
- Axis infantry builds should seek to attrition the Allies by racking up as many kills as possible over time.

Axis infantry and crew weapon buff costs should be slightly underpriced (by, say, 10%) relative to their potency.
- Cumulitive stat and cost increase on infantry and crew weapons should not exceed 50% of the unit's base stats/cost (i.e 1.15 acc, 0.85 rec dmg, 0.8 cooldown, and the associated costs of those buffs).
- Unit stat increase percentage limit should always be considered, even if the buffs are not of the same type (as seen above).

Axis infantry and crew weapons should not receive more than five (5) stat buffs in any one doctrine (i.e. Defensive or Luft).

Axis vehicle buffs that are multiplicative should not exceed 34% (1.34 or 0.66). Additive vehicle buffs are rare, and usually a raw HP buff. They should not exceed 150 for any Axis vehicle.
- Cumulitive stat and cost increase on infantry and crew weapons should not exceed 66% of the unit's base stats/cost (i.e 1.34 pen, 0.85 rec pen, 1.15 acc, and the associated costs of those buffs).
- Unit stat increase percentage limit should always be considered, even if the buffs are not of the same type (as seen above).

Axis vehicles should receive no more than six (6) stat buffs in any one doctrine.

Axis vehicle passive buffs should be allowed to seriously enhance a vehicle's damage or ability to penetrate enemy vehicles.

Axis lower unlocks should not unlock more than three (3) units per unlock (and thus six (9) total) or two (2) weapon/ability upgrades per unlock (again, up to six (6) total).

Axis lower unlocks should avoid MP-based weapon upgrades (Leader Rifles).

Axis lower unlocks should not actively limit the types of weapon upgrades on mainline infantry.
---------
On utility:

Camouflage:
- Allies: Should not get camo on any infantry barring Mandos and their suppression break. Vehicles that dont already have it should not get it via unlock.
- Axis: May have access to it on a wide variety of units.

Heroic Crits:
- Allies: Should be limited to officers and the Captains times sector aura.
- Axis: Should have access to it on infantry in one doctrine (i.e. Defensive or Luft), but it should cost at least 20% of the unit's base cost AND be mutually exclusive with doctrinally-unlocked weapons (scoped StGs, double Schrecks).

Scouting:
- Allies: Should be about as available as it currently is, though not on infantry.
- Axis: Should be more widely available, in order to avoid the Allied ATG/MG walls.

Smoke:
- Allies: Should be seriously reduced. Limit to mortars, Sherman smoke, and the US officer's smoke barrage. Remove smoke grenades outright.
- Axis: Should gain access to smoke grenades as a doctrinal unlock. Should gain Sherman smoke as a doctrine buff or unlock. Smoke canisters (Blitz) should be more widely-available. Buffs to units in smoke/weapons that partially or totally ignore smoke should be increased in number.

Capping and recrew:
- Allies: Fine as-is.
- Axis: Should, at some point, have access to larger squads (incl. Grens and PGs) to facilitate multi-recrewing and capping.

Weapon range:
- Allies: Should not have access to any range buffs, unless it's on something wimpy like Jeeps.
- Axis: Should be limited to +10 m, and only on LMGs in the case of infantry. Should be VERY limited.

Arty:
- Allies: STOP BUFFING ARTY. NO BUFFS UNLESS IT'S A NEW BARRAGE TYPE.
- Axis: STOP BUFFING ARTY. NO BUFFS UNLESS IT'S A NEW BARRAGE TYPE.

Snares/engine damage-causing abilities:
- Allies: Should have about as many as they do now. Should be the one "oooh, super-scaaaary" bogeyman tool available almost exclusively to the Allies to slow down Axis armor.
- Axis: Should be denied most mobility-killing abilities unless they are temporary stat debuffs (i.e. magnetic AT grenades).
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 08:26:38 pm by TheVolskinator » Logged
Akranadas Offline
Honoured Member
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Posts: 6906


« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2020, 09:59:48 pm »


I just want to preface this by saying thank you for taking the time to write out a detailed doctrine design philosophy like that. Its looks like youíve put a lot of thought into it and how you would like things to move forward into the future. Itís clear youíve got a passion for EIR and I think it shines through with the work you put into posts such as this.

As this is a feedback thread, Iíll just pop some more below Ė again, feel free to ignore. Iím not trying to be overly critical or bring you down with this feedback, itís simply one personís opinions on the doctrine design philosophy youíve outlined here.

Quote
Allied doctrines should focus on out-playing enemy players with large numbers of less-powerful units.
- If properly balanced, Allied K:D should hover between 0.5 and 1 in average matches.
Axis doctrines should focus on farming the snot out of Allied companies while slowly pushing them off the field.
- If properly balanced, Axis K:D should hover between 1 and 1.5 in average matches.

Personally, I think trying to design doctrines and more expansively, the entire game around the notion of K:D isnít the way to go. It leads to inherit ďstronger sideĒ debates and players will latch onto that as perceived bias. Having sides with an expected K:D also puts yourself at a limit of what you can do, as you wouldnít want to impact that K:D rations.

As a player, you donít really want to be throwing countless units at an enemy just to win, and with a game like EIR which is built around the idea of persistency, it seems to go against that core tenant to arbitrarily design the game to make allied players lose units while Axis units remain.

Quote
Allied players should be subtly discouraged from preserving their units, and should instead be incentivized to sacrifice or trade them to win the match (as opposed to vetting up).
Axis players should be encouraged to preserve their units without throwing the game. - We may want to introduce rec XP buffs to encourage this.

Like the above point, this philosophy seems to run against the grain of what makes EIR, EIR Ė having one side about persistency while the other isnít, doesnít seem like a balanced designed. EIR has always been about building and maintaining that persistent force of troops and levelling them up through in game battles.

Turning the Allies into a horde just to feed Axis veterancy seems doesnít seem right and would have the potential to alienate players who choose the allied side. You should really be encouraging all players on all sides to embrace the model of persistency by incentivising people to keep their units rather than sacrificing them, as this would aide in retaining players long term as they grow attached to their personal unit roster.

Iíve already expressed my views on stat changes in above replies.

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Akranadas Offline
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« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2020, 05:29:39 pm »

I'm curious if this discussion around feedback is going to continue.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 05:31:52 pm by Akranadas » Logged
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